In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a lot has changed in terms of public health guidelines and regulations.
For example, in Ontario, the Ministry of Labor, Training, and Skills Development is collaborating closely with the Ministry of Health and Public Health to ensure employers are complying with all the proper procedures against COVID-19. Many personnel are advised to work from home; all frequently handled equipment, tools, and surfaces should be cleaned regularly; and social distancing should be maintained at all times.
Regarding COVID-19, or any other health or safety (H&S) issue for that matter, H&S inspectors focus on a particular sector according to a previously arranged schedule. You can expect two types of inspections—proactive and reactive.
The primary purpose of proactive visits is to provide advice about workers’ rights and responsibilities, raise awareness of workplace hazards, assist with compliance, and ensure that workplaces follow the legislation prescribed by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA).
An H&S inspector will come by unannounced for a proactive visit. They may speak with the management, different personnel, and H&S representatives. They could also ask to see all the required documentation and possibly test or check any equipment or material.
If everything is in order, you have nothing to worry about. The inspectors only want what’s best for everyone involved, especially the personnel. However, if there is a major issue—such as a workplace-related illness, injury or fatality—they have the right to shut down the business for the foreseeable future.
As opposed to the regularly scheduled proactive inspections, reactive ones happen in response to a complaint or a workplace H&S incident, which employers are required to report. During a reactive visit, an inspector may visit the location of the incident, take photographs and measurements, and interview witnesses, supervisors, and other personnel who were present or involved. If any equipment was handled at the time of the incident, the inspector might test it or take a closer look at it.
Depending on the inspector’s findings, a reactive visit may result in corrective action or remedial orders. If the OSHA has been violated, the responsible individuals may be brought up against more-serious charges.
H&S inspections are a standard part of running a business, especially during a health crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak. As long as you are up-to-date with all the latest guidelines and legislation, you don’t need to dread a scheduled or unannounced visit from a H&S inspector.
Make it easier for you and your team to standardize your H&S procedures by utilizing audit/inspection software or checklist books from The Checker. To learn more about our H&S compliance solutions, please contact us.